Engaging children’s minds through play, outdoor activities

James Kon

Engage Minds Learning (EML) International School was officially launched by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd lsham bin Haji Jaafar during a ceremony at the school in Jalan Sungai Hanching yesterday.

Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Haji Zuladi bin Haji Abdul Latif and Deputy Permanent Secretary of the MoH Haji Maswadi bin Haji Mohsin were also present.

The school began its operation in September 2020, with an aim to provide children with a learning environment that integrates educational elements through play and outdoor activities.

Director of EML International school Haji Rahman bin Haji Nawi said, “EML International School is a formal and inclusive kindergarten school. We cater to children aged three to six of various abilities.”

He explained that inclusivity “is a key component of our school. We have set up facilities that can help children, who face challenges in a traditional school setting. Our teachers and therapists are highly skilled in working within the early childhood years as well as early intervention”.

He said, “We opened the school to test the market in September 2020, and Alhamdulillah, our children enjoyed their time here. Each part of this school has been created with the children in mind, and we hope EML International School can be a magical place for them to play and learn.”

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd lsham bin Haji Jaafar during a tour of the school facilities. PHOTO: JAMES KON

Meanwhile, EML Principal Cristina Gemanar said, “It has been a dream of my husband and I to establish a formal school that celebrates children the way they should be.”

“Central to my journey as an educator is the belief that children should be allowed to remain as children for as long as they need to be. This has also been my childhood experience. Encourage them to be curious, discover the world around them through their own eyes, play and be adventurous,” she said.

Gemanar, who has been an educator for over 20 years in the country, described the school as being able to encapsulate “the belief that children should remain children while they learn and study, discover… all while playing and interacting with the world around them. EML International School places great importance in connecting our children with the natural world and the larger community”.

She added, “Our children learn mathematical concepts as they construct and deconstruct structures. They learn science as they plant different vegetables or interact with water.

“They learn to read and write as they use their natural environment to create stories.

“They develop confidence and self-assurance as they dictate their own adventures for the day.

“Our children practise kindness and friendship as they interact with other children of different ages and abilities.

“Differently-abled children in this inclusive school get the time to understand themselves and find their potential with the support we have put in place for them.”

Gemanar expressed hope that EML can be a school for many children in the country, and that the school will continue to provide educators and therapists, with the continuous support from MoH, the Allied Health Professions Council of Brunei Darussalam (AHPCBD) and the Ministry of Education (MoE).

EML currently has 53 children with 46 per cent of them differently-abled. The school has 21 teachers trained in early childhood education.

Gemanar also revealed the school’s future goal of expanding to Year 3.

Following the launch, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd lsham planted a tree in the compound and toured the school.